On Not Having Children: Childless, Child-Free or Freak? #MondayBlogs #childless

I am the youngest of my siblings: a brother 3 years older than me, and two sisters, 11 and 13 years older.  I didn’t grow up with babies.  While I’m sure I had the standard baby dolls when I was very little, the only dolls I remember are the ones that had boobs.  The ones that were more or less adult, independent.  They had cousins, like me, but no children.  I wanted to be Marlo Thomas, That Girl, when I grew up.

A couple of weeks ago, I read an essay in the Sunday NY Times on choosing to not have children.  “Childless by Choice” is a rather sad essay by Michelle Huneven about she came to be childless.  She had one stark opportunity for motherhood when she was young and single and broke.  I recognized that part of her story because I too once had an opportunity when I was young and single and broke.  Like Huneven, I passed it up.

And like Huneven, I followed with a “series of time-consuming, life-swallowing love affairs” mixed with a fair amount of drinking (and also, in my case, drugs).  We both grew up in families that were short on love and affection, although Huneven’s family far overshadows mine in terms of dysfunction.  As she put it:  “I didn’t trust myself not to recreate the turbulent family I’d known.” And there our stories begin to diverge.  For me, it was more the fear of recreating the turbulent me that I’d known.

When I was younger, I didn’t like myself much, and I didn’t trust myself.  I had flashes of violent anger that frightened me.  For a long time I was convinced I was mentally ill and just got from one day to the next by a sheer will to live.  So the thought of a mini-me running around was horrifying.  But when people talked to me about having children, I would just joke that I was too selfish. I didn’t want to go shopping for anyone but myself.

I would also joke that God neglected to wind up my biological clock.  I can honestly recall only two episodes in my whole 57 years when I even semi-seriously considered having children.  Once when I was 14 and with my first steady boyfriend and we were both saying we wanted to have our own kids as well as adopt a bunch.  Five minutes after that conversation, I remember thinking to myself how crazy that was.  At the time I didn’t even like kids!

The second time was after I had read an essay by Louise Erdrich in Harper’s (May 1993).  She was writing about women’s work, work that includes having children:  “With each pregnancy, I have been thrown into a joy of the body that is religious, that seizes me so thoroughly that the life of the imagination sometimes seems a spare place.”  Erdrich made it sound so soft and fuzzy and warm, an experience that every woman should have.  And I exclaimed to my husband that perhaps I had made a mistake, for it was too late now.

Several years before that essay, and a year before I married my husband, I had my “tubes tied.”  Tubal ligation to be technical.  I was about 30 when my body started spiraling out of control: every month I was beset by heavy periods, knee-buckling cramps, and painful bloating.  I had been on the Pill for 10 years without incident.  My husband-then-boyfriend wanted me off the Pill, concerned that long-term use might lead to cancer.  But what to do?  Neither of us wanted children, at least not right then.  He seemed more uncertain.  My indifference to children in general and antipathy to being pregnant made my decision easy:  I would be sterilized.  That way, if we broke up, he could still have a family.

So there my story again diverges from Huneven.  She seemed to simply avoid chances to settled down and raise a family “until it was biologically impossible” for her to have children.  She did marry (around age 50) and she has enjoyed sobriety for 27 years, but she had to get to that point–the sobriety and the biological impossibility–before she could think that she would be “somewhat willing to be a parent.”  I took a stand relatively early (31 to be exact).  And aside from my brief infatuation with Erdrich’s rendition of pregnancy and motherhood, I’ve never regretted it.

But I know I belong to a club with very few members.  Roughly 80% of women in the US have a child by age 40.  The remaining 20% no doubt includes women who want to have children but cannot.  An article in the LA Times reports, “The percentage of married women ages 40 to 44 who had no biological children and no other kids in the household, such as adopted children or stepkids, reached 6% in the period from 2006 to 2010.”  It is an increase, but it’s still small enough to make me feel like an overlooked minority.

Whenever I meet someone new, whether at work or a social event, I’m inevitably asked, “Do you have children?”  I inevitably answer, “I have cats.”  And I smile.  Often the questioner smiles along with me, but sometimes she also squirms a bit.  I want to reassure her that I’m childless by choice but quickly realize that would make things more awkward.  I am an uncommon phenomenon.

Even when I lived in San Francisco, after my husband and I married and were joyfully spreading the news, people assumed children were in our future.  When my husband told one of his coworkers that we were not going to have children, the coworker retorted, “What are you going to do? Just sit around and stroke each other’s egos?”  Both of us wondered, what the hell is wrong with that?

And for the past 25+ years of married life, we have been happily stroking each other’s egos, with cats the only demands on our time and resources.  I make no apologies.  But after all these years, I still feel a bit like a freak.  If I had had a biological desire to have children but chose not to say, for environmental reasons (e.g., overpopulation), that would be one thing.  If I had had that desire but was infertile, that would be something else.  But there’s been no desire.  Nada.  Nil.  I can’t claim some lofty rationalization. All I can say is “Meh, the biological clock never got wound up.”

A bit of irony comes with this story:  In early 2001, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer.  This cancer is precipitated by an overabundance of estrogen, an overabundance usually caused by early menstruation (I was 9 when I had my first period), no completed pregnancy (there we go with the whole not-having-children thing), and obesity (I was not obese, but I was overweight).  Fortunately, it was Stage 1 and resolved through a total abdominal hysterectomy.  I’ve never needed any other treatment, and I’m considered “cancer-free.”  But it was a slap in the face, to be brought down by that kind of cancer, even when I had purposely gone off the Pill to avoid it, and when I had purposely (and literally) cut off any chance of ever getting pregnant.

I’ve gotten over it, though.  It wasn’t long before the happy realization that I no longer had to plan my life around my periods over-rode any Twilight Zone-ques feeling of Karma.  I’ve never identified with my uterus except to resent it’s monthly bloodly and painful intrusions.  Having cancer was scary, but having children for the sake of avoiding cancer would have been stupid.  And, no doubt, if I had, that mini-me would still be likely to be sending her therapy bills to me.

And all is not lost.  As the percentage of women who choose not to have children grows, we might also see an increase in the percentage of people who understand:  https://motherhoodtherealdeal.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/what-youre-not-going-to-have-children-a-mother-finally-understands-why/.

It’s a start.

 

 

 

A Call for Submissions: Reblogged from The HeSo Project

An opportunity for anyone with a true story to tell: Mini Memoir Mondays at The HeSo Project.

The HeSo Project

I’d love to read your mini memoirs, and I’m sure my readers would too! If you would like to be a part of the Mini Memoir Monday series, please submit a memoir that’s 500-1500 words. This memoir can be goofy, sad, or just odd. The key to a mini memoir is that you pick a specific moment in time – in other words I don’t want a brief recap of your entire life. I prefer short glimpses into people’s lives; stories that raise more questions than answers.

Forward this to any of your friends who might have good tales 🙂

If you’d like to submit, fill out this contact form, and in the comment section you can include the attachment.

Looking forward to reading your stories!

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Why I Hate Facebook, But Love My Facebook Page

A couple of months ago, I created a Facebook Page.  You can find it here or click Like on the widget in the right-hand column (gotcha!).  Initially, I was hesitant to start a Facebook Page because I have strong but mixed feelings about Facebook in general.  I managed to avoid Facebook until a few years ago when I discovered that one of my nieces had started posting all her children’s pictures there.  I opened an account immediately.  Seeing pictures of adorable baby boys as they grow up was a huge incentive.  At that time, Facebook was fairly easy to navigate; that was before it started to emulate Twitter.

Over the years since then, I’ve accrued a fair number of “friends.”  A large majority of my friends are actually family (I have a lot of cousins).  The rest are former classmates, coworkers, former coworkers, and a few are friends.  Now, making these distinctions, especially between friends and coworkers, is not to suggest that I don’t consider my coworkers or former coworkers to be friends; many of them are.  In fact, I actually like everyone I’m “friends” with on Facebook; in many cases, I love them.  What makes my personal Facebook account awkward for me is the degree (or lack thereof) to which I can be fully myself.  The thing is:  my Facebook friends represent a vast spectrum of likes and dislikes, political and otherwise.  I don’t hide the fact that I am a “bleeding heart liberal.” (In reality, I’m more moderate, but compared to some people, yup, I’m a bleeding heart.)  Yet, I still feel uneasy when I express my political views, when I express myself.  I don’t separate the political from my personal life.  I don’t because I live the political everyday.  I have a government job so I know first-hand how political winds will affect whether or not I can accomplish my agency’s mission.    I’ve been a social worker, counseling victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, so I know first-hand how legislation can help or hinder a victim’s recovery.  I’ve taught college-level courses in composition and social work, so I know first-hand how university politics can ultimately shortchange a student’s education by not teaching him writing or critical thinking skills.  So, for me, politics is personal.

But I know that my views are not shared by every one of my Facebook friends, so I censor myself, at least I try.  I’m sure there are some friends/family members/coworkers who would like me to try harder.  And there are some friends whose views I totally disagree with.  I don’t ask them to censor themselves; instead, I simply hide their posts.  The downside of that is I then miss the occasional good news, latest baby picture, etc., unless I go directly to their Facebook page, which is not something I always remember to do.  There have been many times when I thought about just deleting my account altogether.  If any one of my Facebook friends really want to stay in touch with me, they have my email address or they can call my mom and get my phone number.  I’ve lived at the same street address for almost 22 years.  I’m not hard to find.

But those pictures of the little ones get me every time.  I have five grandnephews and one grandniece.  They live in different states so to see them grow up, I need to keep my Facebook account.

But I still think of closing my account and here’s another reason why.  Now that I have a Facebook Page, I feel lonelier than ever on my personal account.  My birthday last week came and went with only one person from my personal account wishing me a happy birthday and that was done through a direct message, not on my Timeline.  Yet, I blogged about my birthday and when the post showed up on my Facebook Page, it went “viral.” According to Facebook, it got the most Likes and was viewed by more people than anything I’ve written to date.  Now, I usually don’t broadcast my birthday.  I tend to keep it under the radar, but this year was special to me and I wanted to celebrate.  That so many in my blogging community celebrated with me was a wonderful experience.  That there wasn’t a peep on my personal Facebook account brought me up short.  [Caveat:  three friends from my personal account did Like my blog post on my Facebook Page and left messages.]

The difference is that on my Facebook Page, I am a writer and everyone I Like through that page is a writer.  That’s my focus.  On this blog and through my Facebook Page and Twitter account, I stay pretty focused on writing.  I have nothing to censor and I can be totally myself.  It’s ironic to me that, through my blog, I feel more myself than through any other media.  And I don’t feel lonely.   Yet, I do, at times, on my personal Facebook account.

There’s been many discussions about loneliness and Facebook, studies done, reports published (like this one from the Atlantic Monthly).  My husband cites these studies as one reason why he doesn’t and will never have a Facebook account.  Being a shy, sensitive introvert, I do become easily paranoid (“Nobody likes me!,” “I’m persona non grata and I don’t know why!”).  Thus, I have to remind myself that this problem with Facebook is of my own making.  I should know better than to think that “silence” on my personal account indicates anything.  The dark side of social media is that your expectations get raised beyond reasonable levels.  Before Facebook, I was tickled by every birthday card I got, and I didn’t think about the ones I didn’t get.  A bit more effort goes into selecting and sending a card whereas with Facebook all you have to do is point and click.  And so we (at least I) have a tendency to expect more from people now then I did pre-Facebook days.  And that’s simply not a fair expectation.

I started off this post thinking I had every reason to feel unhappy with my personal Facebook account.  But now I realize it was my own unreasonable expectations that have caused my unhappiness.  I’ll keep that personal account because it’s a great way to see the kids in my family grow, see my mom with her great-grandchildren, occasionally exchange political views with like-minded comrades, and keep track of my wealth of family and friends.   My Facebook Page is for the writer that I am now and the author that I hope to be.

A Room of His Own: A True Story of One Cat

Read the true story of living with a cat who never met a surface he didn’t want to spray.

The Community Storyboard

freshly-pressed-rectangle

I knew before I entered the animal shelter that I would name our new cat Joshua, a cat I had not yet picked out.  As I scanned the cages of sleeping felines, the sound of one howling cat drew me down the corridor.  Everyone was asleep except for him.  His big yellow eyes begged for my attention.  His dark gray coat hung on his skinny frame, but his goatee and paws were a brilliant white.  So I stopped.  He reached out with his right paw and patted my face.

The next day I picked up Joshua from a nearby veterinarian after he had been neutered.  Oh, yes, I had naively adopted an unaltered adult male stray.  Thus we started on the roller-coaster of adaptation.

The first night I brought him home, he howled all night long.  Piercing howls that moved me to tears – especially when he kept running away…

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Our First Post!

First post on the new Community Storyboard blog run by Ionia Martin and friends. Visit, read, like, submit, and repeat 🙂

The Community Storyboard

Sunset & Sky 165

Hey everyone! Welcome to the Community Story Board! This is our first post ever:) It is my honest hope that we can make this a fun place for everyone to share their ideas and individual literary expression. The following is a group poem written by (in order of contribution)  petitemagique  Ionia Martin
Mohamed Ossama
Charles Yallowitz

and

Kira
Broken, yet again.
Smashed into pieces, devastated
Left alone in the dark, beyond repair
Painfully lost, feelings annihilated

Giving up, no more
Lost the fight, strength has crumbled
Maybe for good this time
Ripped apart, courage scrambled

Twisting, coiling, burning
turning me outside in
a silent viper of regret
confirming all my sins

Darkness creeping, crawling
until my soul is lost
forever falling weightless
no matter the cost

Thinking musing deeply,
wondering if I’m really dead.
Oblivious to the fact
that I’m just lying awake in bed.

Heart is pumping blood,

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From Interesting Literature: Guest Blog: Why Read Dickens?

This quote sums it up: “We need to read Dickens’s novels,” she wrote, “because they tell us, in the grandest way possible, why we are what we are.”

via Guest Blog: Why Read Dickens?.

All About That English Major Life

Here’s a post that wonderfully describes the difficult but subsequent joy of following your heart. In a comment to this post, I wrote that as English majors we study (or studied as in my case): language, culture, gender, psychology, sociology, political systems, economics … in effect, we study the world.

Life Measured in Coffee Spoons

As graduation season rolls around once again, the ratio of meaningful life reflections to “It’s Gonna Be May” Justin Timberlake memes scattered throughout my Newsfeed peeks at an astonishing 5:1.  These personal progress reports, ranging from the 140-character tweet (respect) to the facebook note novella, spark pre-mature nostalgia and prompt me to reflect on my own collegiate transitions. For one, I can no longer imagine an existence without the aid of Google Calendar, those merciful colored blocks, and the illusion of order they lend my life. For another, I finally mustered the courage to retire an outmoded, social and self expectation-fueled dream in favor of my true passion.

A year ago today, I was lying in my bed in sweatpants, wide awake for the 54th consecutive hour and surrounded by cyclohexanes (some of them printed on sheets of notebook paper, some ingrained in my vision). I was seeing chair conformations…

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Ambushed by the Dead Sea (Secrets)

I just wanted to get some fresh air.  I had been indoors, attending training and conference sessions, for almost five days straight.  It was early December, in Atlanta, and dark after 5 pm.  I just wanted some fresh air, but it was too dark to stroll around the hotel grounds, so I decided to risk the rush hour traffic and walk to the mall.  Malls are supposed to be good walking places, or so I’ve been told, since I usually avoid malls.  I’m a bit agoraphobic.  I don’t like crowds, especially, the unorganized, almost zombie-like crowds of malls.  But I wanted some fresh air, and to get out of my hotel room, and maybe, just maybe, buy myself a treat since I was feeling homesick and probably suffering from SADS.

I smiled easily at the shoppers I passed as I went through the glass entrance doors.  I didn’t know anyone here.  I could browse and stroll with a great cloak of anonymity.  I turned a corner, looking straight ahead, wondering if the mall had a Barnes and Noble or a Borders, and was prepared to bulldoze myself through the opposing traffic of shopping zombies, when she caught my eye.  A diminutive young woman dressed in a black long-sleeve sweater and tight black pants, slinked around a kiosk, calling out to me, “Have you heard of the Dead Sea salts?”  She had a thick accent, almost a caricature of the Jewish accent heard on sitcoms.  I thought, “Seinfeld?,” and stopped as she cautiously touched my arm.

She was smiling and holding a bottle of lotion.  She went on about the Dead Sea, and its salts, and how this line of skin care was Oprah’s favorite.  Did I know about the Dead Sea?  I said yes, and felt myself pulled toward her kiosk, although she did not touch me.  It was if the kiosk had caught me in its tractor beam, and I floated toward it, the young woman still talking about the miracle properties of the dead sea minerals.

She buffed the nail on my index finger, making it shine as if it had just been lacquered.  I admit I was delighted.  My nails are usually so dull, I said, and nail polish doesn’t stay on.  She rubbed oil into my cuticles and admonished me to never use nail polish or to cut my cuticles, not even to push them back.  “That’s very unhealthy,” she said in a tone so serious that I wanted to laugh.

We bantered about the cost of the nail care kit that she wanted to sell me.  “How much is it,” I asked, with a smirk suggesting that I knew it would be too much.   “A million dollars,” she said, “but, for you, forty dollars.  It’s such a deal.”  I grimaced.  Fourteen dollars was more like it, I thought but didn’t say.

“Lemme show you something else.  You will love this.  All my clients love this.”  She grabbed my hands, positioned them over a basin, and then spritzed them with water.  “This is so wonderful.  You will thank me for this.”  She seemed genuinely excited and I wanted to be excited, too, but I could feel myself flag.  It had been a long day, a long week, and I had only wanted to get some fresh air.

She put a small scoop of oil and salts in my hands and told me to rub.  A lemony scent drifted up to my nose, and the rubbing, the gritty, oily sensation, made me pine for my hotel room and the bath I could take if I could only get away from this tiny woman who had thrown a spell over me.  She was very close to me, her straight dark brown hair often brushing against my shoulders.  Her movements were quick and sure, and I began to feel like a solid lump of dough next to her.

She never stopped talking.  She never stopped her spiel.  She rinsed the oily salts off my hands and then applied a thick cream that made my skin feel smooth and plump and soft.  “And how much does this cost,” I asked in a monotone voice.  She responded with her usual  “A million dollars, but, for you …”  She explained how she could give me her discount and that she would give me her phone number so I could always call her when I needed to order more.  “Don’t buy from online,” she said, shaking her finger at me.  “It’s much more expensive online.”

She turned her back to me, and I looked quickly around, wishing there were more people in the mall, wishing I could step back and disappear into a sea of people.  She swung around, her large dark eyes filled with delight as she asked, “Do you use eye cream?”  Before I could answer, she was dabbing at the skin just around my right eye, telling me how thin the skin is there, how it needs to be pampered, how you should never rub that area, and how this miracle gel will make my wrinkles disappear.  Then she grabbed a mirror, wanting me to see the difference between the skin of my right eye and my left eye.  What I saw made me want to weep.  The wrinkles around my eyes were nothing compared to the pallor of my skin and the deep criss-cross of lines across my neck.  I was 52 but I suddenly felt and looked much older.  The woman prattled on, seemingly obliviously to the horror I felt at my reflection.  She put the mirror down and began to stack little boxes next to the cash register, again saying what a good deal she would give me, how I will bless her for this in six weeks time.

I was rooted to the spot and felt my only means of escape was to pay the woman.  Pay her whatever she wanted, pay her anything if she would just let me go.  She handed me a receipt.  Four hundred dollars.  My price of freedom was four hundred dollars.

I managed to get back to my hotel room without being seen by any of my fellow conference goers.  The bag handles were leaving deep grooves in my pampered palms, and I felt so humiliated, so ashamed at spending so much on so little.  In my room, I laid out my goods on the bed, opened up my laptop, and waited for it to boot.  When my browser was up and running, I typed “Dead Sea Secrets” into the Google search bar and began my quest.  I hadn’t wanted any of this stuff.  I had only wanted fresh air.  But I needed to know if at least I had gotten a deal.

On the fence with Christopher Hitchens

Seems like one either loves or one hates Christopher Hitchens (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2013/02/25/richard-seymour-s-tawdry-christopher-hitchens-bio.html).  I was in either camp at different points in Hitchens’s life.  My antipathy toward Hitchens had started with his relentless attacks on Clinton during Clinton’s presidency and while Hitchens was writing for The Nation.  At first, I was mostly disenchanted, throwing off Hitchens as just a gadfly who liked to stir things up and get talked about.  I’m not an apologist for Clinton, but I often felt that Hitchens (and others) were always lying in wait for Clinton to screw up so they could crow and strut about in their righteousness.

His support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq was the tipping point for me.  I wanted nothing to do with him after that.  I don’t think I actually believed that he believed that the invasion was a good thing.  Rather, to me, he was just pandering.  He was a narcissist who would say and do anything to get airtime or his words in print.

And then I heard he was dying and that he wasn’t suddenly converting to organized religion in an attempt to save his soul.  I waited for that conversion, but it never came.  What did come was his appreciation for those people who said they would pray for him, especially those who said they would pray without attaching any strings.  He didn’t slight them, ridicule them for their beliefs.  I think he might have actually felt a bit humbled, just as anyone might feel humbled when total strangers with whom you have nothing in common, wish you well, wish that you don’t suffer, wish that you survive.    A sadness crept slowly over me as I heard about or read bits and pieces of Hitchens’s last days.  I felt uneasy about his illness, his impending death.  It’s so much easier to criticize people when they are healthy and you think they are going to be around, annoying you, for a very long time.

And then I read Mortality.  A beautiful, slim, tastefully produced volume of Hitchens’ last essays and notes.  With Mortality I began to understand that here was one very complicated guy.  In his essays for The Nation, he could be such an asshole, throwing ad hominids around as if they were bon mots of cleverness.  But in Mortality, his humanity rises to the surface.  I could feel his vulnerability, his curious attention to the cancer that would ultimately kill him, his surprise that he wouldn’t be around to see his children marry, his desire to live, his desire that his cancer have a greater purpose than just to kill him (for example, that new treatments could be tried on him and, even if they failed, what might be learned could save someone else).  Whether or not he realized it, by continuing his writing and detailing what his cancer was doing to him and how he was surviving from one day to the next, he was in fact giving that cancer a greater purpose.

After reading Mortality, I went on a bit of a Hitchens’ binge.  I felt obsessed with him, but something held me back from going out and buying all of his books.  A friend told me how she had finished with Hitchens after he wrote an essay for the The Nation in support of 2 Live Crew and the lyrics of their songs.  She had been offended by his statements regarding rape, how rape is every male adolescent’s fantasy, wink, wink.  I was crushed.  There’s nothing funny about rape.  I tried in vain to find the essay, to read it for myself, in the hope that I would interpret his words differently and prove her wrong.  I did find the context:  2 Live Crew had been arrested in Florida on obscenity charges.  OK, so this was a free speech issue, a censorship issue, but Hitchens could have supported 2 Live Crew’s right to free speech without calling their lyrics “poetry” and suggesting that since rape is every male adolescent’s fantasy, we are hypocrites if we are offended by those same lyrics.

Looking for this essay brought me to his other essays excoriating Bill Clinton and Elie Wiesel and my respect for Hitchens did another nosedive.

I had to stop and think.  Hitchens was a gifted writer with an incredible store of knowledge, a facility with language that was seemingly innate.  But he was a human being who, in my humble opinion, did not always use his gift in ways that were respectful of it.  His ad hominid attacks were nothing for him to proud of, no matter how “funny” or “humorous” his admirers claimed they were.  People who engage in such attacks are not advancing the discussion, the debate; they are distracting us from it.  They are showing off; you don’t necessarily come away any more enlightened about the subject than you were when the debate started.  Hitchens was merely being an entertainer and a glib one at that.  He was an extrovert who seemed to engage in little if any introspection.

In an interview with Mother Jones (http://books.google.com/books?id=IecDAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA12&dq=christopher+hitchens+rap+Jack+and+Jill&hl=en&sa=X&ei=-VYyUe6iMeTx0wGN2oGABg&ved=0CDAQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=christopher%20hitchens%20rap%20Jack%20and%20Jill&f=false)  he claimed surprise that anyone would think he was a misogynist.  Best as I could tell, his surprise was genuine.  Other interviews with him and his friends suggest he was a great friend to have, very loyal, unless your last name is Blumenthal.  Again, I think he was oblivious to how his actions, his words, his language, could do irreparable harm to a relationship that he claimed to hold dear.  I don’t think he really meant any ill-will (except, of course, toward Clinton).

Can one be on the fence with Christopher Hitchens?  Would he turn over in his grave if he knew that I (or anyone) felt sorry for him, felt that he was a small man with a big gift?  I mean small in the sense of him being needy, like the rest of us.  We are all needy, but he certainly never wanted anyone to see him as such.  Now until his voice was adversely affected by his cancer treatments, did he realize that he was nothing without his voice (and by extension, his writing):  “To lose this ability [speech] is to be deprived of an entire range of faculty:  It is assuredly to die more than a little.”  As an introvert, I have often (and still do) take pleasure in being silent, without a voice so to speak.  But that is not Hitchens and, perhaps, that is one reason why my heart softened when I read his words.  He was his voice; without his voice, he might never have been as successful (and as polarizing) a personality as he was.

I am still obsessing about Hitchens, clipping articles and interviews into my Evernote account and wondering why he has this hold on me now.  What does it matter?  I would have meant nothing to him if he had ever met me.  Perhaps there’s some envy here:  He wrote and said what he damn well pleased.  I am constantly censoring my own work to the point that it rarely is viewed by anyone but me. So maybe some envy, and definitely some regret that I didn’t appreciate the man more while he was alive.

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